General Electric and French media company Vivendi have reached a tentative agreement, which will clear the path for cable giant Comcast to buy NBC Universal, according to reports in The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.
The stories cite unnamed sources who say under the terms of the deal GE will buy Vivendi's 20 percent stake in NBC Universal for roughly $5.8 billion. Vivendi's ownership of NBC is one of the hurdles that stood in the way of GE selling the TV and movie company to Comcast in a deal worth about $30 billion.
The Journal is reporting that Vivendi also won some concessions as part of the deal. Specifically, if GE's separate Comcast deal doesn't close by the end of 2010, GE may have to buy out as much as $2 billion of Vivendi's stake in advance, the newspaper said.
Vivendi had said during the negotiations that it didn't want to assume risk that the Comcast transaction would be delayed by regulators or blocked by others, according to the Journal's sources.
Experts believe the deal could get regulatory approval within six months to a year.
The Times reported that GE and Comcast could still squabble over the price of the deal, but it's likely that some agreement will be hashed out. The final deal could be announced as early as Thursday.
GE has been looking to dump NBC as costs rise. Meanwhile, Comcast, the largest cable provider in the country, has been wanting more control over TV and movie programming. This control not only helps the company control costs on its cable side, but it could also help the cable operator expand its business as it moves more services online.